'No pressure' on Mugabe at summit

A summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is under way in Tanzania, with the president of the host country denying that southern African leaders would put pressure on Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president.

'No pressure' on Mugabe at summit

"Pressure?We are in a meeting, not pressure," Kikwete said on Thursday beforethe emergency summit at Dar es Salaam.

OnWednesday, Zimbabwean police raided the headquarters of the country's mainopposition party, increasing pressure on regional leaders.

"Yourcoming is a clear testimony of your commitment to the maintenance of peace andsecurity in our region," Kikwete told leaders from the 14-nation SADC.

"Indeed,our region faces some daunting challenges ... However complex anddifficult some may appear, none of them is difficult to fix."

TheEuropean Union (EU) said on Thursday it is "deeply concerned" by therepression in Zimbabwe.

Thecriticism of Mugabe's government follows the continued harassment ofthe country's political opposition groups.

MorganTsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Zinmbabwe'sleading opposition party, was hospitalised two weeks ago after beingbeaten while in police custody.

Uncertainty

HaruMutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent at the summit, said the SADC delegates wereuncertain on how to best address the current issues in Zimbabwe.

"Fellow African leaders, publicly at least, stillregard Mugabe as a revolutionary hero," she said.

"Butthere is unease here at the summit at what is happening in Zimbabwe.

"Thebrutality of a Zimbabwegovernment crackdown on an opposition prayer rally two weeks ago shocked somenow attending the summit."

Zimbabwe is in a deep economic crisis, withan inflation rate of 1,730 per cent. Unemployment is running at 80 per cent ofthe working age population.

HumanRights Watch, a New York based human rights group, said:"The crisis is reaching a breaking point and it is likely to get a lotworse ... There is so much fear in Zimbabwe,security agents are everywhere."

Three SADCcountries charged with dealing with Zimbabwe - Tanzania, Namibia and Angola- met behind closed doors late on Wednesday.

Tanzanianofficials said SADC chiefs would try to convince Mugabe to meet the MDC leadersin an effort to dissolve the tensions that threaten Zimbabwe'sstability.

Eyeon Congo

The SADCsummit agenda also includes recent developments in the Democratic Republic ofCongo.

Clasheslast week between the military and militia loyal to Jean Pierre Bemba, formervice-president and ex-rebel chief, claimed up to 500 lives, according to theGerman ambassador in Kinshasa.

Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president, held talks with JosephKabila, his DR Congo counterpart, on Thursday before the main summit.

Bemba hastaken refuge at the South African embassy in Kinshasaand has been accused of high treason by Kabila's government.

Source:Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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